Scanners [1981]

David Cronenberg's "Scanners" (1981) famous head explosion shot.

Friday, May 22, 2009

#14. The Grudge 3 [2009]

Every Curse Has A Beginning, Every Beginning Has An End

Director: Toby Wilkins
Cast: Shawnee Smith, Marina Sirtis, Johanna E. Braddy, Aiko Horiuchi, Matthew Knight, Beau Mirchoff, Gil McKinney, Emi Ikehata
DVD Release Date: May 12, 2009

The Grudge 3 is the direct-to-DVD sequel to the American horror films The Grudge and its sequel, The Grudge 2. The film was directed by Toby Wilkins taking Takashi Shimizu's place. According to IMDb, filming took place in March 2008. The film was released on May 12, 2009. The trailer was released on October 28, 2008.

The events of The Grudge 3 occur several months after the Chicago vignette of The Grudge 2. Jake Kimble, (Matthew Knight) the sole survivor, is now institutionalized after the gruesome murder of his family. His caretaker is Dr. Sullivan, who is skeptical of Jake's stories describing a woman with long black hair covered in blood as the murderer. Dr. Sullivan has to leave Jake in his room as she has to take care of the other patients. She reassures Jake by telling him that there is a security camera that will always be watching him. When she leaves, almost immediately the lights start flickering, and Jake realizes that Kayako is here. He screams for help, but the security guard does not pay attention, but it is too late when he does realize what happens, as he sees Jake being flung around the room by an invisible force. When they arrive in the room, Jake is lying in a pool of blood. He has broken almost every bone in his body. Dr. Sullivan has become aware of the truth.

Kayako's sister, Naoko Kawamata,is a young Japanese woman who hears of Jake's death through the newspaper and becomes worried. Naoko knows how to stop the grudge and travels to America, more specifically to Chicago where the last incident linked with Kayako occurred. She is introduced to the Chicago apartment by Max, (Gil MicKenny) the landlord, and immediately begins to feel her sister's presence. She meets Max's little sister, Rose, and she somehow knows that Rose is in touch with the dead and can communicate with Toshio, Naoko's nephew. She also meets Lisa (Johanna Braddy) and they quickly become friends, and they meet other residents of the apartment, including Gretchen, (Marina Sirtis) who is an artist. Lisa begins to grow frightened when she realizes her younger sister Rose is seeing a dead boy all around the apartment.

Naoko is observed throughout the apartment by Kayako, her sister, but Kayako never actually kills Naoko, quite possibly because she still loves her sister. Later that day, Lisa encounters Toshio, who makes her jump. When asking him what he is doing in the apartment, Toshio vanishes leaving Lisa bewildered. A girl is killed when Kayako's hands pull her into her bathtub and drown her. At night, Gretchen is painting a beautiful picture of Rose and when she turns away she finds it almost shredded and in a pool of red paint that resembles blood. Whilst expecting the painting of Rose, it briefly changes to a portrait of Kayako and handprints begin to apear in the red paint and move towards Gretchen. Then another of Gretchen's paintings begins to change and morph into Kayako who crawls towards Gretchen and kills her by gouging her eyes out and ripping off her jaw, presumably because Gretchen's career reminds her of her husband, Takeo. Max discovers Gretchen's body and is horrified to see black blood/paint flowing from her eyes.

Lisa, Max's sister, hears about the grudge from Naoko and realizes that the death of her sister and the deaths in the Chicago apartment - including the death of Jake Kimble - are connected, and to this end she meets Dr Ann Sullivan, (Shawnee Smith) who informs her of what she learnt from Jake concerning a girl named Allison Flemming and a woman named Kayako Saeki, from Japan. Lisa recognizes the boy as the one Rose has been seeing, and to her horror Dr Sullivan informs her that the Saeki family died long ago because Takeo Saeki killed Kayako and Toshio in a fit of anger and jealous rage. Dr Sullivan also informs Lisa that Toshio, the boy Rose has been seeing, is dead, and plays a video of one of her interviews with Jake, who tells Dr Sullivan that Kayako is sitting right in between them constantly and when Jake is about to describe Kayako's face as "looking as though she is dead," Lisa eventually returns to the apartment.

Dr Sullivan examines further evidence and then goes down the corridor out of her office because she sees Toshio on the monitor. Everything seems normal for a few brief seconds until Kayako appears in the hallway. Dr Sullivan recognizes her from her pictures and interviews with Jake and exits via the other door in the corridor, only to have Kayako appear before her in the corridor she is now in. Dr Sullivan screams for help and knocks repeatedly on the door, but meanwhile Kayako is catching up. Kayako litterally walks through the door opposite and Dr Sullivan feels Kayako's fingers go through her hair and touch the side of her face as she screams for the cleaner to open the door, and then suddenly Kayako seizes Dr Ann Sullivan's head and snaps her neck, splattering blood against the window.

Later that evening, Lisa invites her boyfriend Andy (Beau Mirchoff) out to supper, and there she discusses the Saeki murders and her theory that the vengeful ghosts are in her apartment. Andy dismisses her ideas initially, saying "you only make connections you want to see," and persuades Lisa to come to New York with him, but Lisa refuses. Andy returns Lisa to the apartment, and later when he leaves he sees the lights flickering and Toshio's legs run upstairs. He follows Toshio to a black hallway and sees Toshio run before him in the gloom. When Andy flicks on the light switch, Kayako jumps on him and grabs him violently as the door closes to the sound of her death rattle.

Later, Max shows signs of a mental change and becomes violent and aggressive. He viciously attacks his superior when he is fired, and later his superior is killed by Toshio Saeki in his broken-down car. Max kicks out his own sister Lisa after taking out his rage on her, and then he also pushes Rose aside and tells her to go to her room. When Max squats down before the door, ignoring Lisa thumping on it, he starts shivering uncontrollably as if something is possessing him. Lisa, frightened, goes to Naoko for help and Naoko realizes what has happened to Max. She dresses in a classic Japanese kimono and begins to perform an exorcism on the building using Rose as a witness, but halfway through Naoko tells Lisa that Rose has to drink Kayako's blood, which she somehow has obtained.

Naoko begs Rose to drink it, claiming that "the bad will go away". Lisa refuses to have anything to do with this ritual, and begins to leave, only to find her path blocked by Max. Now it is revealed that Max has been possessed by the evil spirit of Takeo Saeki, and he is now out to repeat the same murder he performed on Kayako. He pursues Naoko into the hallway, and when Naoko attempts to reason with him, he breaks her leg, so she has to crawl just like her sister Kayako did. Naoko attempts to crawl away but Max seizes a utility knife, grabs Naoko by her long black hair, and thrusts the blade into her throat. Meanwhile, the murderous spirit of Kayako is back for the final showdown, and she pursues Lisa and Rose through the upper story of the apartment. Lisa and Rose run into the bathroom and find the corpse of her boyfriend Andy, but when she grasps it, Andy becomes Kayako and attempts to strangle her. Rose is thrown out of the bathroom and the door locks Lisa in.

Lisa backs away, and Kayako crawls right up close to Lisa's face and utters her death rattle loudly. Just as Kayako is about to kill Lisa, Rose drinks Kayako's blood and Kayako's evil spirit vanishes. Just then, the evil spirit of Takeo is exorcised from Max, who, when reverted to normal, is horrified at what he has done. When he is sitting, immersed in remorse and guilt, in the apartment's corridor, noises come from the other end of the corridor. The source of the noises is revealed to be Naoko, stumbling on her broken leg. She has taken over from Kayako as the new Grudge. She crawls up to Max and bites into his throat. Now Naoko's new curse is haunting the apartment in the wake of Kayako's demise.

The final scene is of police and doctors removing the bodies and Lisa telling Rose that everything will be alright. However, as she hugs her, the final image is that of Kayako filled with rage and hugging Lisa instead of Rose.

Reviewed :
The Grudge 3 picks up a few months after the end of part 2, with the sole survivor of the curse, young Jake, locked up in a psychiatric hospital. Dr. Sullivan is skeptical of his stories of a ghostly woman out to get him, but after finding Jake dead in his room with every bone in his body broken, she starts to come around.

The Grudge series can prove frustrating because of the hopelessness of fighting a curse that can never end, so the introduction of a viable cure in this film keeps it from falling into a predictable rut. The croaking ghost Kayako is as unsettling as ever, despite cheaper special effects than the previous films and a new actress taking over the role. The boy playing her meowing ghost son Toshio, though, seems too old for the role.

The Grudge 3 isn't great -- the characters are a bit annoying, and the script could use a once-over to strengthen some plot points -- but it's fast-moving with a nice twist ending. It's not as good as the first (the American version) but could very well outperform the second, whose overpopulated plot made the pace lag.

Official Website :


#13. DVD : Deep In The Jungle [2008] (ปฏิหาริย์รักต่างพันธ์ )

Director: Teerawat Rujitum
Starring: Jessadaporn Pholdee, Ploy Jindachote, Sakda Keawbuadee, Pasin Ruengwut
Official website:
Release Date in Thailand: 31st December 2008
Synopsis :A Thai special forces sniper is forced to go rogue in order to protect a mysterious hilltribe woman being sought by a black-ops officer. The woman, named Jin, is actually a member of the ancient race of naga--snake gods who live in human form but can transform into giant serpents.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

#12. Perkins' 14 [2009]

Perkins' 14 is a 2009 horror film originated by Jeremy Donaldson, written by Lane Shadgett, and directed by Craig Singer. The film is produced by Jeremy Donaldson, Matthew Kuipers, and Christopher Milburn. The film was released theatrically nationwide January 9-15, 2009. The DVD which includes the 10 making-of webisodes from the Massify Ghosts in the Machine Competition was released on Tuesday March 31, 2009.

Robert Perkins was just six years old when his parents were brutally slaughtered right before his very eyes. Unable to overcome the incredible trauma of witnessing such a diabolical event, Perkins becomes convinced that the killers who murdered his parents will eventually return to finish the job they started years ago - and he plans to be fully prepared to fight back when they do. Years later, when Perkins turns thirty-four, he kidnaps fourteen people from his hometown of Stone Cove, and sets about reprogramming them to become relentless killing machines. Now, if the killers ever do return, they'll have to get through Perkins' 14 in order to reach their intended target. Trouble is, now that Perkins' 14 are ready for battle, they've become increasingly difficult to contain.

Dark Ride director Craig Singer returns to the helm with this shocking horror film about a delusional psychopath who creates a unified team of fourteen maniacal killers. Produced entirely over the internet, where writers uploaded story details and actors submitted audition tapes, Perkins' 14 was released into theaters as part of the third After Dark Horror Fest. Usually anything branded with the 8 Films to Die For moniker is a watch-at-your-own-risk affair, but I'm pleased to say that this movie is original enough and possesses enough strong performances to elevate it above the usual mess. And it's weird. So damn weird, in fact, that the movie's main shortcomings arise from the fact that it tried to get a little too-out there, and I think the writers wrote themselves into a corner, but more on that in a bit.

The stronger of the two halves of Perkins' 14 is definitely the first half, which is more of a creepy homicide drama than the latter half's zombie-esque horror stuff. O'Kane turns in a fine dramatic performance as Dwayne Hopper, perfectly emoting the characters' pain at the loss of his son all those years ago. The problem is that he keeps the audience from instantly connecting with him. He's ... well, he's scary! Like I said, he does a tremendous job at his role, but his tough, brooding appearance doesn't lend well to the father-figure type. I don't blame him for the miscast though, as much of the film's strength comes from him.

By far the biggest show stealer though, is Richard Brake and his snakey, frightening and downright crazy portrayal of kidnapper-murderer-mad-scientist Ronald Perkins. Brake is fast becoming one of my favorite character actors, never shying away from any role, no matter how creepy or reprehensible it makes him out to be. Here, he's only in the movie for maybe 20 minutes, but his role is pivotal to the plot and makes for the most memorable scenes.

Speaking of plot, be warned -- there isn't much of one. After the child-kidnapping thread is dealt with and the creatures are unleashed, the rest of the movie is a frantic fight for Hopper's family's survival. Whatever science was involved in the transformation of the children into these -- Spoiler alert!! Oh, who cares? -- zombie-like ghouls is never explained beyond a few tables worth of different colored liquids in test tubes. Perkins' motivation for his diabolical experiments is touched on, but I guess because my parents were never killed in the same way his were when he was a boy, I can't see making my revenge scheme against the world revolve around turning kids into cannibalistic monsters. But what do I know?

This is thankfully one of those movies where you won't spend too much time worrying about the hows or whys. This brings us now to the ending. I mentioned earlier that the writers had painted themselves into a corner, and really, there isn't any other way to phrase it. The film just ... stops, kind of. Viewers looking for any real resolution, or answers, or anything will be left holding the ball. The final scene is so strange that no amount of repeated viewings will really clarify why the characters onscreen do what they do, when for the previous hour, they'd preached against such an act. Anyway, this is a decent little low-budget horror film. With its use (maybe overuse) of lots of strobe lighting, extremely solid performances and some really good gore effects, it's a good way to pass an hour and a half.

Source :
Wikipedia,IGN, After Dark HorrorFest [2009]


Monday, March 30, 2009

#11. The Last House On The Left [2009]

" If bad people hurt someone you love, how far would you go to hurt them back? "

USA [110m] Directed by : Dennis Iliadis, Written by : Screenplay: Carl Ellsworth, Adam Alleca 1972 Screenplay : Wes Craven Music : John Murphy Cinematography : Sharone Meir Starring : Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, Garret Dillahunt, Spencer Treat Clark, Martha MacIsaac, Sara Paxton

The Last House on the Left is a 2009 American horror film directed by Dennis Iliadis and written by Carl Ellsworth and Adam Alleca. It is a remake of the 1972 film of the same name, and stars Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, Garret Dillahunt, and Sara Paxton. The film follows the parents of Mari, who attempt to get revenge on a group of strangers that have taken shelter at their home, and whom they learn have shot their daughter and left her for dead. This film was released on March 13, 2009.

Two detectives are escorting a criminal to prison when they are ambushed and brutally murdered.Meanwhile, Mari, a 17-year-old student, is on vacation with her mother Emma and her father John, who is a doctor. Mari asks to sleep in the guest house rather than the main house. Mari's brother, Ben, had died a year earlier, and the family is still trying to adjust to his absence; Mari wears a necklace he had given her. She decides to go into town to see her friend Paige, even though Emma is worried. Mari meets Paige at the store where she works. A boy named Justin attempts to buy cigarettes, but Paige does not sell to him because he is underage. Justin says that if they join him at his motel room, he will give them marijuana, so Paige agrees to sell him the cigarettes. Later, they drive to Justin's motel room and Justin and Paige go in, promising Mari they won't take too long. Mari waits in the car, but eventually goes in to find them getting high.

While they are still high, Krug, Justin's dad and the escaped criminal, enters with his accomplices, Sadie and Francis. Krug says it is too risky to let Paige and Mari live. The criminals steal Mari's car and kidnap Mari and Paige. While they are driving, Mari tells Krug to take a route which passes her house. Mari and Paige attempt to escape by burning Sadie with a cigarette light and trying to jump out of the car, but this causes the criminals to crash the car injuring Francis in the process. Paige attempts to escape again, but is stabbed to death. Krug then beats and rapes Mari. After being raped, Mari grabs a rock and hits Krug with it and runs to the lake. Mari begins to swim away from them and all Krug can do is shoot at her. After several shots he hits her in the shoulder and assumes she is dead.

John and Emma are dining when they hear a knock at the door. Krug explains that their car crashed and they need help. Justin goes into the kitchen and sees a picture of Mari on the refrigerator, realizing that the couple are her parents. He leaves Mari's necklace on the counter to warn her parents. Emma shows the guests their room and returns to the house, where they find Mari on the front porch. They rush her inside where John cauterizes her wound and performs surgery on her. Emma finds Mari's necklace while getting towels and realizes the guests are responsible. John also discovers Mari has been raped and they decide to get revenge.

John rushes to the boat house to grab weapons. Francis comes into the house while Emma is gathering more weapons. Emma realizes Mari's picture is still on the fridge and seduces Francis in order to distract him. He then walks into the living room and sees Mari. As he realizes that they are her parents, Emma breaks a bottle over his head. He fights back but John walks in and together they attempt to drown him in the sink. They finally turn on the garbage disposal while his hand is in the sink and hit him with a hammer, killing him. They then go to the guest house where Justin gives his gun to John. Krug and Sadie awaken when John cocks it, but John manages to wound Sadie. Krug escapes but Sadie is killed by Emma. Emma then helps Mari out of the house and onto their boat to hide.

When Krug realizes why John and Emma tried to kill him he taunts John. Justin then holds a gun to his father's head. Mad at himself for being too timid to stop what happened to Paige and Mari, Justin tells his father that he is ending it. However, the gun doesn't fire and Justin is stabbed by Krug. John, with Emma's aid, seem to kill Krug. John and Emma take the boat to get Mari and Justin immediate medical attention. The following morning, Krug wakes up to realize he has survived, but John informs him that he is paralyzed from the neck down. He puts Krug's head in a microwave and, as John leaves, Krug screams while his skull burns and his head explodes.

Of all the horror remakes in recent years -- Friday the 13th, Prom Night, My Bloody Valentine, etc. -- The Last House on the Left seems the least likely to revisit. Not only is its controversial content -- including rape, torture and murder -- difficult to watch, but it also wasn't a huge hit, earning about $3 million in 1972. And unlike the similarly uncomfortable The Hills Have Eyes, which was remade in 2006, there isn't a clan of inbred cannibals to lessen the realism. But as Hollywood eyes every horror film of the past 40 years, I guess it was only a matter of time before they reached an unlikely choice like this.

The Last House on the Left isn't a great film, but it's a worthy retread that offers enough to justify the existence of a remake. It thankfully eliminates the odd slapstick-y element of the original that involved police officers seemingly culled from Hazzard County, and the acting and overall production value is, of course, much more professional.However, it's the gritty, low-budget nature of the original that helped make it so realistic and impactful. The polished remake isn't nearly as grim as the original, but it manages to at least be uncomfortable, if not truly disturbing.

One aspect that hurts the film's impact is the decision to leave Mari alive. In the original,the hoodlums kill her,making her parents' vengeance all the more poignant, powerful and appropriate. Having Mari survive undermines the Collingwoods'motivation for revenge; wouldn't they be more willing to commit murder if they had no children left alive and thus nothing to live for? As it stands, they could be sent to jail, leaving behind a minor daughter to care for herself.

In addition to a certain grit, the remake misses the original movie's reflections of then-contemporary social turmoil, including feminism, class conflict and "white flight" from the cities to the suburbs. The 2009 version is, as remakes tend to be, more shallow, but it deserves credit for not going the total Hollywood route and turning the parents into MacGyver or the A-Team, building extravagant traps out of popsicle sticks and Lemon Pledge.

That said, the parents' actions actually could've used some of Hollywood's typical heavy-handedness. One of my biggest complaints with exploitive revenge flicks like The Last House on the Left is that the villains' comeuppance rarely seems on par with the initial assault, and this remake is no exception. Lacking the hyper-realism of the original, the remake would've been more open to flourishes of over-the-top violence. A tacked-on ending strives in that direction, but by then, it's too late and actually cheapens the film's finale.

Still, the film's structure is refreshing. Though not a unique experience, it's fun in this era of torture porn to see the tables turn on the villains, with the hunters becoming the hunted, the tortured, the maimed and the murdered.


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